Equal and Non-Discriminatory Treatment

December 2nd, 2016

The Advocate General’s Opinion on 1 December 2016 in Case C-296/15, Medisanus v Murska Sobota, restates the requirement for contracting authorities to treat economic operators equally and non-discriminatorily. The Advocate General said:-

“76.    Under Article 2 of Directive 2004/18, the contracting authorities are required to treat economic operators equally and non-discriminatorily.

  1. According to the Court’s case-law, in application of the principle of equal treatment as between tenderers, the aim of which is to promote the development of healthy and effective competition between undertakings taking part in a public procurement procedure, all tenderers must be afforded equality of opportunity when formulating their tenders, which therefore implies that the tenders of all competitors must be subject to the same conditions.
  2. Strictly speaking, the national origin requirement distinguishes not between economic operators but between products, by excluding medicinal products not manufactured on the basis of Slovenian plasma.
  3. Nonetheless, it has consistently been held that the principle of equal treatment, of which Article 2 of that directive is a particular expression, prohibits not only overt discrimination based on nationality but also all covert forms of discrimination which, by applying other distinguishing criteria, in fact achieve the same result.
  4. A clause requiring that a medicinal product be manufactured on the basis of plasma collected in the national territory is liable to operate mainly to the detriment of economic operators of other Member States, since they will find it more difficult to have access to plasma collected in the national territory than the economic operators of the Member State concerned.
  5. In the circumstances of the main proceedings, the discriminatory effects of that national origin requirement are all the more apparent because the ZTM, a Slovenian body, is in practice the only economic operator capable of supplying medicinal products manufactured on the basis of Slovenian plasma, which precludes all operators in other Member States.
  6. I conclude from the foregoing that Article 2 of Directive 2004/18 of Directive 2004/18 must be interpreted as meaning that it precludes the national origin requirement.”

The national origin requirement was also contrary to Article 34 TFEU, as was a priority supply requirement.

The Advocate General also stated that the Hamburg Waste exemption was not applicable.  The Advocate General said:-

“72.    That judgment concerned a contract concluded for a period of 20 years between the City of Hamburg (Germany) and four Landkreise, for the purpose of establishing long-term cooperation between those local authorities for reciprocal treatment of waste. Thus, that contract, which had been concluded without launching a call for tenders, formed both the basis and the legal framework for the future construction and operation of facility intended to perform a public service, namely thermal incineration of waste. The Court held that such a contract was not required to be the subject matter of a prior call for tenders.

  1. Admittedly, the circumstances of the main proceedings bear certain resemblances to those of the judgment in Commission v Germany, and in particular the public nature of the contracting parties, namely Murska Sobota general hospital and the ZTM. However, in that judgment it was not the Court’s intention to exclude all contracts between public entities from the rules applicable to public contracts, but only those forming both the basis and the legal framework for long-term co-operation with the intention of carrying out a public service. That is not the case of the contract at issue in the main proceedings, the object of which is limited to the occasional supply of medicinal products manufactured on the basis of human plasma.
  2. Consequently, I consider that the contract at issue in the main proceedings does not come within the exception established by the Court in the judgment in Commission v Germany.”

 

 

 

Comments are closed.